Stars look to end struggles in back-to-backs
FEB 26, 2013 10:52a ET
That loss to Columbus, who has amassed just five wins all season, came on the first night of a back-to-back as the Stars then lost 4-1 to the Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena the following night. So far this season, Dallas is 0-4-0 in the second game of back-to-backs and here's a closer look at the numbers.
Blown Leads? Not so Much.
In a number of Stars' losses this season, blown leads have been one of the main storylines. But that hasn't been the case for Dallas in the second game of back-to-backs. Of course, with just four of these out of the way so far this season, the sample size is of course quite small but in only one of the second games in their four previous back-to-backs have the Stars blown a lead and that came when Loui Eriksson scored in the first period of a 4-1 loss at Detroit on Jan. 29.
That 1-0 lead held for a total of 2:52 or until the Wings' Valtteri Filppula tied the game and the denizens of Hockeytown added a second tally to lead 2-1 at the first intermission before going on to prevail 4-1. So, if there is a positive to take away from the Stars' first four back-to-backs, it is that on only one occasion they have blown a lead and went on to defeat. Of course, stating the obvious, one has to have a lead before they can lose it and the fact that the Stars have led only once in the second game of back-to-backs this season is a truly disconcerting number in its own right.
It's Worth a Shot
In three of the four Stars' second games of back-to-backs, Gulutzan's group has been outshot. Of course, Dallas teams have been outshot on a number of occasions over the past few years, but that is nothing new but being outshot by 17 in a 2-0 loss at Phoenix where Dave Tippett's Coyotes doubled the Stars up with 34 attempts on goal is simply unacceptable.
But Dallas did return the favor in a 7-4 loss at Calgary on Feb. 13, outshooting the Flames by a 34-17 margin. However, what good is it to outshoot a team when you trail 3-0 less than 10 minutes into the game like the Stars did that night in the Saddledome? Dallas trailed 4-1 after the first period and why they did claw their way back for a few goals, losing 7-4 to the Flames was a definite low point in what turned out to be a successful three-game swing through Western Canada.
Shot totals of course only tell half the story as of course those numbers don't account for the quality of shots and/or scoring chances, but if getting outshot shows one thing, it's that the Stars for the most part aren't doing something they have preached for much of the season in second games of back-to-backs and that's putting more pucks on net.
You Go to Box, You Feel Shame
One constant throughout these four losses has been the high number of penalty minutes the Stars have received. Dallas has logged a grand total of 57 penalty minutes through these four contests, an average of just over 14 per game. The high-water mark was 22 penalty minutes in a 4-1 loss at Detroit on Jan. 29, a total matched by the Red Wings. The low number was eight PIM by the Stars at the Wild on Jan. 21, a game where Minnesota won 1-0 and spent just 10 minutes in the sin bin.
Naturally, penalty minutes alone only tell half the story but not to again state the complete obvious but penalties lead to opposing power plays and if there's one thing every NHL head coach and general manager will agree on it's that the quickest way to get your club in trouble on the ice no matter if it's at home or on the road is to keep putting the opposition on the power play because sooner or later no matter how good your penalty kill is, the law of averages will take over and the opposition will convert a chance or two with the man advantage.
Better on the Power Play
Besides the rash of penalties in the second half of back-to-backs, another constant for the Stars has been an anemic power play. Dallas is just 2-for-12 with the man advantage in these four games, which means they have been converting at a rate of 17 percent. The Stars power play, which is greatly improved compared to last year when it was the worst PP in the NHL and in franchise history, but that unit has still been an issue off and on this year.
Comparing that rate to the opposition in these four games, where teams are converting at a rate of nearly 27 percent (4-for-15) and it's pretty easy to see how much of a difference converting just another opportunity or two on the PP could make for the Stars in these contests. Maybe that trend starts to reverse itself on Tuesday night in Columbus or maybe it doesn't.
All Hands on Deck
Another constant in these losses have been an overall lack of production from many of the Stars' big offensive threats. Jaromir Jagr has definitely pulled his weight in the second game of back-to-backs with three assists over those four games. Captain Brenden Morrow has two goals but both of those came in that 7-4 loss at Calgary on Feb. 13 and he hasn't had a point since. But Jamie Benn has just one assist, which also came in that loss to the Flames.
Michael Ryder, who has caught fire of late on the offensive end, also has just a single assist with that helper coming in Calgary and Eriksson has just one point, his goal against the Red Wings at the Joe in late January. Of course, Ray Whitney has been hurt and out with a foot injury for this entire stretch, so he naturally won't be mentioned but plain and simple, the Stars need more from their big guns in the second game of back-to-backs.
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